Working with the McGruff Campaign

In 1979, many Americans thought they could do little about crime. Most viewed crime as inevitable and its prevention as the job of the police. Today, more than three out of four Americans believe they personally can take actions to reduce crime, and that their neighborhoods and communities can act to prevent crime.

A major force behind this shift to a more positive attitude is the National Citizens' Crime Prevention Campaign, a coordinated effort to prevent crime and build safer, better communities. The campaign is symbolized by McGruff, the Crime Dog, and the "Take A Bite Out Of Crime" slogan. Since 1980, McGruff has been educating and exhorting Americans through such avenues as public service advertising, educational films and videos, brochures, posters, booklets, and personal appearances.

Market and survey research reveal that:

Over the years, thanks to the efforts of local crime prevention practitioners, McGruff has appeared at a multitude of events across the country. He's been to schools, hospitals, shopping malls, rodeos, fairs, and parades. His image appears on T-shirts, mugs, stickers, football cards, caps, billboards, and more. But everywhere, his message; that responsible action, both by individuals and by groups, can "Take A Bite Out Of Crime" and his advice on how to do so are the keys to his effectiveness.

McGruff has appeared in Sports Illustrated, The Washington Post, Weekly Reader, Parade, Mini-Page, The New York Times, U.S. News and World Report, McCall's, Time, and Smithsonian, to name just a few national publications.

McGruff is extremely popular and versatile, but he never forgets his prime mission enabling people and communities to prevent crime and improve the quality of life for themselves, their families, friends, and neighborhoods.

Description of the McGruff Truck Program

The widespread recognition of the McGruff symbol makes McGruff Truck and McGruff House highly effective. Having a symbol children readily recognize that identifies sources of help provides nationwide consistency.

Making neighborhoods safer for children is the goal of the McGruff Truck Program. It provides a way for utility companies to offer help in emergency situations to anyone, especially young people. A McGruff Truck is easy to spot as it uses the image of McGruff, the well-known Crime Dog, on strategically placed decals to identify utility vehicles that children or others can turn to for help.

The message of the McGruff Truck Program is, "We'll call for help". The driver is trained to summon appropriate help when flagged down by a child or individual in distress. McGruff Truck drivers are trained to call for help immediately and have direct access to two-way communication.

A McGruff Truck is easy to spot. The McGruff Truck symbol is placed on the front and rear sections of the utility vehicles. It identifies utility service vehicles and their drivers as sources for help when someone is in trouble. When a McGruff Truck is seen in the community, residents know that the people in it can get help for anyone, especially children.

Participating in the McGruff Truck Program offers both a valuable public service and an opportunity to build good will in the community. To protect this, NMHN carefully screens each company that applies to participate and requires endorsement letters from agencies familiar with the company's operation and reputation in the community. The company's chief executive must sign a formal Memorandum of Understanding with NMHN confirming compliance with all requirements.

Who can operate a McGruff Truck Program?

Only a publicly owned, publicly regulated, publicly franchised, or government regulated utility company whose vehicles are identified by the company's logo and have immediate direct access to two-way communication (e.g., cellular phone, two-way radio) can be eligible as a McGruff Truck participant. Participating companies must agree to operate the program in accordance with standard requirements established by the National McGruff House Network (NMHN).

What is a McGruff Truck?

A McGruff Truck is a utility vehicle whose specially trained crew agree to summon appropriate assistance for children or others in temporary need. McGruff Trucks are identified by the company's logo and McGruff Truck decals located on the front and rear sections.

Who can be a McGruff Truck driver or crew member?

Participating utility companies agree to place on McGruff Trucks only those employees who meet the company's most stringent standards for potentially sensitive contacts with the public. In addition, all McGruff Truck drivers and crew members receive training in appropriate ways to respond to requests for help. That training is renewed annually.

What is a McGruff Truck driver expected to do?

When a child approaches a McGruff Truck driver for help, the driver will:

A McGruff Truck driver does not:

How does someone get help?

Children are trained to wave both arms above their heads to indicate that help is needed. If they simply want to wave "hello" to a McGruff Truck driver, they are instructed to hold one arm behind their backs and wave with the other. In this way, a casual wave is not mistaken for a request for help, and a request for help conveys the appropriate urgency.

Benefits of the McGruff Truck Program

Benefits for the community

Children, our most precious resource, deserve our protection. Participating in the McGruff Truck Program is an investment in safeguarding our communities' and nation's futures. It enhances and contributes to a community's efforts to prevent crime and provide a safer, more caring environment for all its residents, especially children.

The McGruff Truck Program provides children with an added measure of security. It lets them know that while they must be cautious with strangers, they have a way to identify people in a McGruff Truck who, though unknown to them, can be counted on to help them in an emergency.

Feeling secure is a prerequisite to children's ability to learn and develop. By providing a safety network for children, utility companies can contribute to their well-being.

Benefits for the company

It is difficult to measure directly the impact of public relations and community service programs on a company's bottom line. Having a reputation for contributing in a variety of ways to the communities it serves benefits a company by:

The McGruff Truck Program certainly meets customer- and employee-related objectives for the company. In many cases it formalizes or strengthens a service the company already provides to its communities.

Corporate responsibility

Many utility companies believe they should help the communities they serve in ways other than providing utility service. Their corporate cultures frequently promote a sense of civic responsibility among their employees. Because they provide basic, necessary services to their communities, they feel a sense of responsibility to the communities' well-being that sometimes surpasses that of other businesses. Many utilities sponsor classroom educational programs about energy and utility services for schools in their service areas. This provides an opportunity for employees to interact with children in a comfortable setting. The McGruff Truck Program requires educational promotion to create awareness of the service it provides. As participating companies become associated with McGruff, his visibility and popularity enhance the visibility of the company as a concerned, committed community member.

Through workers' experience with utility watch and similar programs, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) believes that the presence of utility companies and employees in the community can deter crime. Combining that deterrent effect with widespread public awareness that the company has committed itself to helping protect children is part of McGruff Truck's strength.


Check list for Parents

Walk With Your Child

Parents should walk or ride their child's route(s) to and from school with them and point out:

Be sure your child knows:


  • That you want to be told whenever anything happens that makes your child feel strange or "funny" in any way.

  • That you cannot be with your child at all times, and the child can help keep him/herself safe by always telling you when something is said or done that makes him/her feel uncomfortable.

    The McGruff Truck Program and Your Revenue Protection Department can work together in very subtle ways. Not only is the McGruff Truck Program highly visible, but it makes a big impact on the protection of our communities children

    By participating in the McGruff Truck Program your utility gains strong ties within the community and with local law enforcement agencies. This puts your Revenue Protection Department in a positive light with your customers as well as the local law enforcement.

    For more information on how your company can get involved in the McGruff Truck Program contact:

    Jack Monroe

    Elizabeth Walker

    Mark Peterson

    We support The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

    Please support their efforts to stop the pain for our future generations.

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